Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

UN Experts’ Unseen Peacekeeping Report on Sexual Abuse Unveils Necessity for UN Accountability

AIDS-Free World publicly released an unseen peacekeeping report by UN Experts on the ways in which the peacekeeping missions are addressing the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse. The report reveals profoundly different material than the Secretary-General’s annual report regarding this topic. AIDS-Free World conveys a side-by-side comparison of the two reports that sharply contrast one another and delineates the UN’s lack of accountability in regards to sexual abuse.


UN Experts’ unseen peacekeeping report: sexual exploitation and abuse

Paula Donovan and Stephen Lewis, AIDS-Free World

March 16, 2015

Open Letter to Ambassadors of All United Nations Member States


As you know, the Secretary-General reports to you annually on progress against sexual violations committed by UN peacekeeping personnel. This year’s “Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse[1] report, issued on March 13th, highlights the completion of a two-year-long “enhanced programme of action to combat sexual exploitation and abuse, a key aspect of which was the appointment of an independent team of experts to assess how four peacekeeping missions were addressing the challenge.”

That independent team of experts submitted its assessment (the “Expert Team’s Report”[2]) in November 2013. AIDS-Free World was sent a copy of the report by an anonymous UN source, who feared that because it is highly critical of the UN Secretariat and Troop Contributing Countries, the Expert Team’s Report would be quashed. Indeed, the annual report just submitted to you by the Secretary-General would appear to discount virtually the entire Expert Team’s Report.

We know that the UN has never disseminated the Expert Team’s Report. We therefore suspect that few if any governments are aware that independent experts, commissioned by the Secretary-General, made pointed criticisms about the way sexual violations in UN peacekeeping missions are handled. We are releasing the Report today because we believe it contains valuable material that differs profoundly from the Secretary-General’s own annual report on progress. It should be seen by all the Member States of the United Nations.

To illustrate why the failure to disseminate the Expert Team’s Report to Member States is so critical, here is an initial comparison of some of the striking differences between the Secretary-General’s report and the Expert Team’s Report:

1. Reported allegations vs. actual cases of sexual exploitation and abuse 
In his report to the General Assembly, the Secretary-General states that:
“For peacekeeping and special political missions, the total number of allegations received (51) is the lowest recorded since special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse were first put in place and represents a decrease compared with 2013 (66).”[3]

However, the Expert Team reported to the Secretary-General that:
“The UN does not know how serious the problem of SEA [sexual exploitation and abuse] is because the official numbers mask what appears to be significant amounts of underreporting of SEA. There are a number of reasons why, and these include:

  1. Fear of reporting inside and outside the UN /stigmatizing of whistleblowers within the UN and sometimes outside /culture of silence particularly within military and police,
  2. a sense of futility about reporting because of long delays in the enforcement process in NY and in mission and the rarity of remedial outcomes including rarity of victim assistance, and
  3. record keeping problemswith numbers not matching from one source to another.”[4]


Click HERE for the entire report.

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